The urgent need for clean water – at home and abroad | Letters

Your editorial on water pollution (18 January) is right to emphasise the need for a conversation about the water industry’s regulatory framework. Water companies recognise the urgent necessity of ending harm from overflows and improving the health of our rivers. Our recent 21st Century Rivers report calls on the government, regulators, water companies, agriculture and other sectors to work together to deliver a comprehensive national plan to bring about the transformation in our rivers that we all want to see.

The radical improvement in England’s coastal bathing waters in recent decades, with 99% passing water quality tests and more than 70% classed as “excellent”, shows what can be achieved by working together.

Water companies have invested more than £160bn into an industry that was previously starved of cash and want to invest more. That’s why we’re working with the government and Ofwat to facilitate greater collaboration and investment to ensure we don’t waste this critical decade.
Christine McGourty
Chief executive, Water UK

The news that antimicrobial resistance is a leading cause of death worldwide is another warning sign about current, and future, health crises (Antimicrobial resistance now a leading cause of death worldwide, study finds, 20 January). Antimicrobial resistance is a silent killer of millions across the globe, but the double tragedy is that many people could be saved by the basics of clean water, sanitation and good hygiene, which are critical to prevent and control the spread of drug-resistant infections.

Governments must take urgent action against this often-overlooked emergency and invest in the basics in the poorest countries – especially in healthcare centres – to stop the spread of preventable infections in the first place.

Covid-19 and Ebola have been stark warnings. The failure to learn and to act on them will make pandemics the new norm, and will effectively sign the death warrant of millions of men, women and children for generations to come.
Claire Seaward
Global campaigns director, WaterAid

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